[ON VIEW] The photography of CORNEL LUCAS

DIANA-DORS-VENICE-1955-1-C04877
DIANA-DORS-VENICE-1955-1-C04877

One of the pioneers of film portraiture Lucas began his career in the late 1930s with the help of his first sitter Marlene Dietrich. After a nervous start to the photo-shoot it ended well when Marlene famously said to him 'Join the club Mr Lucas.' He was not sure what she meant at the time but soon after the commissions started flooding in and Lucas became the photographer of choice for the British Film Industry. In the early 1950s he went on to set up the Pool Studio at Pinewood Studios in London England's equivalent of Hollywood's well run establishment at MGM studios. During his sixty-year career Lucas has photographed some of our greatest film stars both at the Pool Studio and on film locations all over the world. Marlene Dietrich was just the first of many famous faces he photographed. Brigitte Bardot, Joan Collins, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Simmons, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven, Dirk Bogarde, Alec Guinness and Diana Dors were all captured in his lens along with a long list of others. Stylish, glamorous and perfectly composed the photographs are a testament to both the photographer and the sitter. Lucas was quick to learn that his photographs were a key part to the actor's success, as Marlene Dietrich once told him: 'Mr Lucas I'm telling you now that a photograph to me is more important than film.' He was the master of the 12 x 10 large format plate camera, but also of light and shade. It is prevalent throughout his work, creating stunning, rich portraits, which are full of life and luminosity. As Lucas once said 'Light and shade made the image in its beauty.' Lucas has held numerous international and national exhibitions and was the first stills photographer ever to receive a Bafta in honour of his services to the film industry. Chris Beetles Fine Photographs in London is currently presenting a retrospective retrospective of Cornel Lucas' photography - on view until August 27.